New England Patriots @ Atlanta Falcons
New England are the slight favourites to win here, but it feels like the tide of opinion is turning in their favour. Facts like the league's best defense having beaten the league's best offense in five of six Super Bowl meetings to date can have that effect.
Pats D and Special Team could offer touchdown value
Around 59 points are predicted. Personally I think the total will go even higher. And if so, that offers some great opportunities for backing touchdown scorers. A lot of the key offensive players have already been priced prohibitively in expectation of this. But what about the NFL's number one defense this season (in terms of points allowed per game)? The Patriots rank near the top of the league for both forced fumbles and interceptions. If Atlanta have to chase the game, the chances of New England's D taking one to the house increases. And then there's Special Teams. We've already seen Dion Lewis return a kick-off 98 yards for a touchdown in the playoffs (vs Houston). So the price on New England's D hitting paydirt at some time seems pretty good at 7/2.
Dion set to star
Speaking of Dion Lewis, his chances of playing a major role don't look too shabby. Just think back two years to the Patriots' most recent Super Bowl appearance. On that occasion, Tom Brady fed 11 passes to Shane Vereen - a record number of catches for a running back in a Super Bowl. Without doubt, Lewis is now New England's top pass-catching runner, and he could see a lot of action in that role. Throw in his involvement as a kick-returner, and the price on him scoring first looks healthy at 16.5.
Say no to high Hogan total
The key thing to remember about New England coach Bill Bellichick is that he is the master of the unexpected, the king of the contrarians. Think of the most likely course of action and then expect Bill to do something different. Consequently he doesn't tend to repeat himself, because that's predictable. So after granting Chris Hogan a starring role in the Conference title victory over Pittsburgh, I fully expect Bellichick to send Hogan back to the same land of obscurity from which he was plucked. There are so many other Patriots receivers to choose from, that it makes going with Hogan for consecutive big games a high risk choice. Hence, going low on Hogan's quote of 58.5 yards look a strong percentage call.
Back Brady to be top boy
In 50 Super Bowls to date, the winning quarterback has been named MVP on 27 occasions. So it's an odds-on chance. With so many points likely, and with both teams tending to spread the ball around, that further increases the chances that one of the men under centre will get the award here. So it really boils down to which team you think will win, as to whether you back Tom Brady or Matt Ryan. I'm firmly in the Patriots camp though, and so barring a three TD performance by one of Brady's teammates, I like the favourite to canter home here at odds of just above even money.
Sanu the sane bet for a Falcons TD
Atlanta have three big name offensive players in Devonta Freeman, Julio Jones and Tevin Coleman. But New England are extremely tough on the run, and are likely to double team the Falcons' star man - Jones. Those three guys could well strike, but better value may lie elsewhere. And in Atlanta's pass-heavy offense I believe that value lies with Mohammed Sanu. Working the seam, Sanu has been heating up as the season's progressed. And as the team's clear number two receiver, I like his chances of finding the end zone at some stage.
New England Defense/Special Team to score anytime touchdown @ 7/2
Dion Lewis to score 1st touchdown @ 16.5
Chris Hogan receiving yards to be less than 58.5 @ 2.1411/10
Tom Brady to be MVP @ 2.186/5
Mohammed Sanu to score anytime touchdown @ 2.526/4